By Lauren Wanko
This shopper is searching for stocking stuffers and a few last minute gifts before Christmas.
“I have to say I’ve been splurging a little more on some nicer, more fun things and kind of saying, ‘What the heck? Go for it,'” said Alison Greer.
The Sea Girt resident is one of more than 23 percent of consumers who plan to spend more this year while holiday shopping, that according to the National Retail Federation, which expects 2016 holiday sales to increase by 3.6 percent to $655.8 billion.
“Well the economy seems to be doing reasonably well. Unemployment is down, it’s down at its lowest level since the Great Recession. The stock market is booming and consumer confidence is up as well, it’s up close to 100 [percent]. All of those positive economic factors seem to lead to people going out and spending money, especially around holiday season,” said Steve Pressman, emeritus professor of economics and finance at Monmouth University.
“We’re thrilled, we are thrilled,” said Kate & Company owner Kate Reed.
Spring Lake’s Kate & Company staffers notice more customers are buying big ticket items, like furniture and lighting. Manager Kacey Roy says holiday sales are up about 20 percent over last year.
“I think social media has been a blessing for us. I feel like we’ve drawn in a nice, new crowd, younger people,” Roy said.
A few blocks away at Waterlily, owners started gearing up for the holiday rush in the summer.
“To prepare we absolutely increase our inventory. We load up on giftable items. For us that means hat, scarves, gloves, candles, jewelry,” said co-owner Catherine Spinosa.
NRF indicates more than 53 percent of consumers want clothing or clothing accessories this season and more than 56 percent will do their shopping in department stores, something these owners keep in mind as they stock up their store.
“We’re competing with department stores so we have to offer something different,” Spinosa said.
“The holiday shopping season is the make or break time for most businesses, especially small businesses, and the numbers that I’ve seen and heard all the time are that pretty much you break even for the rest of the year and sometime between right before Thanksgiving and the beginning of the year is when you make all of your profits for the year,” Pressman said.
Waterlily counts on a busy holiday season because the shore town traffic typically slows down in the winter months.
“This time of year is actually really important for us. It’s a struggle because if the weather is really cold or really rainy or snowy, it could be a struggle to get people out here. But these dollars are important for us because they pay for the inventory we need in the busy summer months,” said co-owner Abbey Holloway.
Holloway says fortunately this year, holiday sales are up for her business too — 15 to 20 percent over last year.
For lots of people, Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without a family dinner. This butcher has been taking orders for holiday roasts since the end of November.
At Tom Bailey’s Market, they say their catering business spiked significantly during the holiday season. Chefs prepare entire Christmas meals for families who prefer not to cook. But for those who want to roll up their sleeves in the kitchen, days before Christmas the butcher preps hundreds of roasts for hundreds of hungry customers.
“People seem to be spending, they’re not holding back like they have in years before. Whenever they place an order, whether it’s prepared foods or meats, they say, ‘Make sure I have enough. I want plenty,'” said owner Chris Deufemia.
And these business owners are hoping for plenty more shoppers before Christmas.